By Ted Benton | Pelagic Publishing | Paperback | March 2017 | 202 Pages | 176 Colour Photos | 65 Black & White Line Drawings | ISBN: 9781784270889


The Publisher’s View: In Britain and Ireland there are about ten times more species of solitary bee than bumblebee and honeybee combined, yet the solitary bees tend to be ignored and we know much less about them. They are a fascinating, attractive and diverse group that can be found easily in a wide range of habitats, both urban and rural, and they are important as pollinators.

Solitary bees provides an introduction to the natural history, ecology and conservation of solitary bees, together with an easy-to-use key to genera.

Chapters cover: Diversity and recognition; Bee lives; Cuckoos in the nest; Bees and flowers; The conservation of solitary bees; Approaches to practical work; Keys to the genera of bees of the British Isles – Females and Males; and References and further reading.

The Author: Ted Benton is emeritus professor of sociology at University of Essex, where he has pioneered the integration of ecological understanding with social theory. He has been an active field naturalist since childhood, and is author or co-author of eight books on entomological topics, in addition to his academic publications and a recent book on Alfred Russel Wallace. His two books in the New Naturalist series (Bumblebees (2006) and Grasshoppers and Crickets (2012)) have both been highly praised. He is hon. President of Colchester Natural History Society, a founder member of the Red-Green Study Group and is involved in environmental campaigning.

Fatbirder View: It’s all kicking off in the bee world! For the last several years I’ve become aware of the fact that there are not just two sorts of bees; honeybees and bumblebees. A period when I was unable to get out much led me to spend summer days in my own tiny garden trying to take pictures of anything that moved. It quickly became apparent that there were dozens of different flies, hoverflies and bees. Just like bird seasons there were different species to be seen in different months and the provision of a couple of bee houses soon upped the fascination stakes allowing me to discover leaf-cutters and miners creating brood chambers and even closer examination revealed that some bees predated others. It put me in mind of the simple verse about fleas… some fleas have smaller fleas on their backs to bite them, and smaller fleas have lesser fleas and so on, ad infinitum! It looks like the fleas have nothing on the bees!I’m hoping that I will learn to really sort out who is who on my flowers and who is doing what to whom in the bee houses. I’ve set myself the task of slowly reading this volume as my first attempts found me realising that I need to absorb a great deal to make these distinctions. The book together with my ID guide will, I am sure provide the answers if I have the wit to absorb them.I guess my first impression is that it’s not a straightforward task and that this book is not set out like a fieldguide so I’m going to have to work a bit harder, but my first foraging between its covers has already convinced me the effort will be worthwhile.

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